DAY 8 – MONDAY, FEBRUARY 20:
Today was our first day in Athens. We enjoyed sunny skies and warm temps around 70! After breakfast we started with a bus tour of the city. We saw and stopped at the House of Parliament, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (where we saw the “changing of the guards”), the remaining pillars of the Temple of Zeus, the Hadrian’s Arch, and the Old Olympic Stadium (renovated in 1896 for the first modern Olympic Games). We also saw many of the neoclassical buildings of Athens.
Because the security guards at all the public sites went on “strike” today, we could not visit the Acropolis & Parthenon (we will visit this on Wednesday). We still got some good “first looks” from a distance of the Acropolis. However, we did walk to the top of Mars Hill (“Aeropagus”). From here we could see the various temples, the Stoa, and the Agora (the “marketplace” and ancient center of the economic and public life of the city where Paul preached to the skeptical Athenians). We also read from Acts 17 about Paul sharing the message of Christ on top of this hill. Praise God for the several who accepted the message that day (Dionysus and Damaris).
Towards noon, we visited the highest mountain in Athens (1,000 feet vs. the 510 feet high Acropolis) – Lycabetus. Six in the group hiked to the top while the others took the cable car/incline to the top. The view was spectacular from the top. Almost the entire city of Athens could be seen (4. 5 million residents). Even the Aegean Sea and the Port of Piraeus could be clearly seen!
From here most in the group enjoyed the afternoon in the Plaka (“old city”) of Athens. Some had a traditional Greek lunch while others shopped a bit. It was fun to experience a little traditional Greek life here and the “sights and sounds” of every-day Athens!
We all returned to the hotel for dinner and a free evening.
DAY 9 – TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 21: DAY CRUISE TO AEGINA, POROS, AND HYDRA